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The Month of Allah | Muharram





Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has chosen and given preference to certain days and times that are special and sacred in our religion. As many of you may know by now, the sacred month of Muharram (which begins the new Islamic year) has started today.

The Prophet of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “The division of time has turned to its original form which was current the day Allah created the heavens and earth. The year consists of twelve months of which four are sacred: three consecutive months, Dhu’l-Qa’dah, Dhu’l-Hijjah and Muharram, and Rajab which comes between Jumada and Sha’ban.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

Virtues of Muharram

  • It is one of the four sacred months. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) said, “Verily, the number of months with Allah is twelve months (in a year), so was it ordained by Allah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are Sacred. That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein” (9:36)
  • It is the best month to fast in after Ramadan. The Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “The best fasting after Ramadan is the month of Allah Muharram, and the best prayer after the obligatory prayer is prayer at night.” [Muslim]
  • The Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “The best fasting after Ramadan is the month of Allah, Muharram.” [Muslim] The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) called this month “the Month of Allah.” When Allah azza wa jal connects His Name to something, it shows the great status and virtue of the subject.
  • This month contains the day of ‘Aashoora (the tenth of Muharram). Ibn Abbas raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) was asked about fasting on the day of ‘Aashoora and he said, “I do not know of any day on the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) fasted that was better than this day.” [Bukhari and Muslim] This day is known as the day Allah ta’ala saved Musa alayhi salaam and the Children of Isra’eel from Fir’awn.
  • Fasting the Day of ‘Aashoora is an expiation of a year of sins. The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said: “Fasting the day of Arafah I hope Allah will expiate thereby for the year before it and the year after it, and fasting the day of ‘Aashoora I hope Allah will expiate thereby for the year that came before it.” [Muslim]

Mourning the Death of Husayn ibn Ali?

Al-Hafidh ibn Katheer rahimahullah, known for his work of tafseer, states regarding this act of mourning the death of Husayn ibn Ali radi Allahu anhu,

Every Muslim should mourn the killing of al-Husayn (may Allah be pleased with him), for he is one of the leaders of the Muslims, one of the scholars of the Sahaabah, and the son of the daughter of the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), who was the best of his daughters. He was a devoted worshipper, and a courageous and generous man. But there is nothing good in what the Shi’ah do of expressing distress and grief, most of which may be done in order to show off. His father was better than him and he was killed, but they do not take his death as an anniversary as they do with the death of al-Husayn raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him). His father was killed on a Friday as he was leaving the mosque after Fajr prayer, on the seventeenth of Ramadan in 40 AH. ‘Uthmaan was better than ‘Ali according to Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah, and he was killed when he was besieged in his house during the days of al-Tashreeq in Dhu’l-Hijjah of 36 AH, with his throat cut from one jugular vein to the other, but the people did not take his death as an anniversary. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab was better than ‘Ali and ‘Uthmaan, and he was killed as he was standing in the mihraab, praying Fajr and reciting Qur’an, but the people did not take his death as an anniversary. Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq was better than him but the people did not take his death as an anniversary. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is the leader of the sons of Adam in this world and the Hereafter, and Allah took him to Him as the Prophets died before him, but no one took the dates of their deaths as anniversaries on which they do what these ignorant Raafidis do on the day that al-Husayn was killed. … The best that can be said when remembering these and similar calamities is that which ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn narrated from his grandfather the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), who said: “There is no Muslim who is afflicted by a calamity and when he remembers it, even if it was in the dim and distant past, he says Inna Lillahi wa inna ilayhi raaji’oon (verily to Allah we belong and unto Him is our return), but Allah will give him a reward like that of the day when it befell him.”

Narrated by Imam Ahmad and Ibn Majaah, end quote from al-Bidaayah wa’l-Nihaayah (8/221).

Good Deeds for This Month

  • Fasting. Muharram lands in winter this year, making it even more easier to fast. The Companions and the righteous predecessors rejoiced in the coming of this season. It is reported that Abu Hurayrah radi Allahu anhu said, Shall I not point you to comfortable proceeds? The people responded, “And what is that O Abu Hurayrah?” He replied, “Fasting in winter.” The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) did not fast in succession for one month other than Ramadan, so it is not recommended to fast the whole month.
  • The best days to fast in Muharram is the day of ‘Aashoora and one day before it or one day after it. Imam Shafi’i and Imam Ahmad both stated, “It is mustahabb [recommended] to fast both the ninth and the tenth, because the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)fasted the tenth and intended to fast the ninth.” Shaykh Al Munajjid gives a tip on his website for us to be sure that we fasted on the correct day:

If a Muslim wants to be sure that he has fasted on the right day, he should fast two consecutive days at ‘Aashooraa’. So he should calculate when ‘Aa’shooraa’ will be if Dhu’l-Hijjah is twenty-nine days and if it is thirty days, and fast these two days. Thus he will be definite that he has fasted ‘Aashooraa’, and in this case he will have fasted either the ninth and tenth, or the tenth and eleventh, both of which are good. If he wants to be sure of fasting Taasoo’ah (the ninth of Muharram) as well, then he should fast the two days we have spoken of above and the day immediately before them as well. Then he will have fasted the ninth, tenth and eleventh, or the eighth, ninth and tenth. In either case he will have fasted the ninth and tenth for sure.

So in following this principle, you can fast [updated] October 25th, 26, 27th inshaAllah to be sure you fasted on ‘Aashoora with one day before it or after it.

  • Fasting the “White Days.”  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Fasting three days of each month is fasting for a lifetime, and ‘the white days’ are the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth.” [an-Nasa’i, Saheeh] Ibn ‘Abbas raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, did not fail to fast the white days either when at home or on a journey.” [an-Nasa’i] These days are the 13th, 14th and 15th of the hijri month which you can calculate according to whichever calendar for Muharram you follow insha’Allah.
  • Increasing in duaa when you are fasting. “The prayer (duaa) of the fasting person will not be refused.” [Al-Bayhaqi, Saheeh]
  • Qiyaamul Layl. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said in the hadith, “and the best prayer after the obligatory prayer is prayer at night.” [Muslim] In this month we can complete two deeds that the Salaf encouraged in winter. Al Hasan Al Basri rahimahullah said, “The best season to a believer is the winter, its nights are long for those who wish to pray, and its days are short for those who wish to fast.”
  • Protecting yourself from sins. Allah azza wa jal said about the sacred months, “so wrong not yourselves therein” (9:36) Imam Sa’di rahimahullah said in his tafseer regarding this ayah,

Allah states that He has made them a measure of time for His slaves, which they may use for worshipping Him, and thank Allah for His blessings, and they serve the interests of His slaves, so beware of wronging yourselves therein. The pronoun may also be understood as referring to the four sacred months, and this forbids them to wrong themselves in those months in particular, as well as it being forbidden to do wrong at all times, because it is more forbidden at this time, but it is worse at this time than at others.

  • Increasing in good deeds in general. Read some chapters from Riyaad as-Saaliheen for ideas.

May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) accept our deeds and allow us to reap the benefits of those days and times He has selected over others.

Amatullah is a student of the Qur'an and its language. She completed the 2007 Ta'leem program at Al-Huda Institute in Canada and studied Qur'an, Tajwid (science of recitation) and Arabic in Cairo. Through her writings, she hopes to share the practical guidance taught to us by Allah and His Messenger and how to make spirituality an active part of our lives. She has a Bachelors in Social Work and will be completing the Masters program in 2014 inshaAllah. Her experience includes working with immigrant seniors, refugee settlement and accessibility for people with disabilities.



  1. Avatar


    December 18, 2009 at 4:28 AM

    I benefited from some of these fatwas on islamqa regarding Muharram.

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      abu abdullah

      December 7, 2010 at 6:36 AM

      salamualaikum, jazak Allah khayr for the reminder. very beneficial mash Allah.
      how does it say fasting is next better in muharram, when we are in muharram, after ramadan. And when in Dhul Hijjah, first 10 days become most dear to Allah.
      How do we reconcile between it? ( best thing I suppose is to fast everytime that is possible :)
      I understood it was a re-post when they said this year to fast 25,26,27 of December.

      • Avatar


        December 12, 2010 at 1:52 PM

        How do we reconcile between it?

        My dear brother, there is no contradiction to be reconciled.

        “The best fasting after Ramadan is the month of Allah Muharram”

        “There are no days on which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days”

        So one mentions fasting specifically and the other mentions righteous deeds in general.

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    December 18, 2009 at 5:14 AM

    barakAllahufeeki…..jazakAllahukhairan for the reminder….sister what’s the reference for the 3rd point in “virtues of the month” which says it’s the month of Allah?

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      December 18, 2009 at 5:38 AM

      wa feeki barak Allah

      The reference is the hadeeth mentioned in point 2, The Messenger sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, “The best fasting after Ramadan is the month of Allah Muharram.” [Muslim] I added it to the third point now :) jazaki Allahu khayran.

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        December 18, 2009 at 6:52 AM

        waiyyaki….oh k…so it was mentioned in the second point didn’t notice…jazakAllah….and yea im gonna spread it inshAllah…

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      October 30, 2014 at 12:42 PM

      Reference of the month to Allah is a sign of its distinction and auspiciousness like Baitullah, Naqatullah etc. Muharram is one of the sacred months and it is this month with which the Islamic year starts. The other three sacred months are Rajab, Dhul-Qa`dah, and Dhul-Hijjah. The Hadith points out that fasting in the month of Muharram is better than any other month of the year after Ramadan.

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    December 18, 2009 at 5:16 AM

    Baraka-Llahu fik for this explanation !! it’s very useful !!

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    Yasir Qadhi

    December 18, 2009 at 8:15 AM

    Ma sha Allah great and succinct article!

    Keep up the good work.


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    Abd- Allah

    December 18, 2009 at 11:23 AM

    Jazakillah khayr for this informative article!

    Unfortunately, the importance of this month is forgotten by many, and abused by others…

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    December 18, 2009 at 2:34 PM

    Excellent Article. JazakAllahkhayr sis <3

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    abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    December 18, 2009 at 5:53 PM

    Among the blessings of this first of Muharram — the 9th and 10th days of Muharram will be a weekend. “So give those excuses a black eye!” Fast and be rewarded, bi’idhnillah; may Allah accept it from you, and increase you in your love for performing ibadat.

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    December 18, 2009 at 11:04 PM

    JazakAllahu khair Sister…may Allah Ta’Ala forgive us our sins and make it easier for us to do good. Very informative article Mashaa’Allah.

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    December 19, 2009 at 4:41 AM

    jazakillahu khairaa sis.

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    Holly Garza

    December 19, 2009 at 4:49 AM

    JazakAllah Khayer for posting this article. It always helps to learn and with examples and explanations =)

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    December 19, 2009 at 11:59 AM

    Awesome post, barakAllahu feeki!

    Really liked the tip by Sh. Munajjad…

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    December 20, 2009 at 7:44 AM

    Jazakallahukhair for the great article.

    I especially liked the distinction of the ahadith regarding its virtue and the actual application

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    Kamran Rahman

    December 20, 2009 at 5:40 PM

    Interesting Article. Thank you for the information. It seems like a lot of youth these days associate Muharram with purely mourning, but it goes much farther beyond that.

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    December 20, 2009 at 7:44 PM

    SubhanAllah, it just hit me – “The Month of Allah”. Wow, that’s powerful…

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    December 23, 2009 at 10:42 PM

    the following research I found that shows the significance of 10th Muharram in Islam, other religion and in world history:
    Ashura is a day of great historical significance. On this day: Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala) accepted the repentance of Sayyidina Adam (’Alaihis-Salaam) after his exile from Paradise; Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala) saved Sayyidina Nuh (’Alaihis-Salaam) and his companions in the ark; Allah extinguished the fire in which Sayyidina Ibrahim (’Alaihis-Salaam) was thrown by Nimrod; And Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala) spoke directly to Sayyidina Musa (’Alaihis-Salaam) and gave him the Commandments. On this same 10th of Muharram, Sayyidina Ayyub (’Alaihis-Salaam) was restored to health (from leprosy); Sayyidina Yusuf (’Alaihis-Salaam) was reunited with his father Ya’qub (’Alaihis-Salaam); Sayyidina Yunus (’Alaihis-Salaam) was taken out from the belly of the fish; and the sea was divided as the nation of israel was delivered from captivity and Pharoah’s army was destroyed. ‘Ashura is also the day when Sayyidina Dawud (’Alaihis-Salaam) was forgiven; the kingdom of Sulaiman (’Alaihis-Salaam) was restored; Sayyidina Isa (’Alaihis-Salaam) was raised to Jannah

    Now tell me if it is not the day of celebration instead of mourning as we always indulge ourselves into. Isn’t it also the first month of Islamic calendar, would it not be joyous occasion? Hussain (May God be pleased with him)’s death did not bring any benefits to anyone let alone Islam as his decision was solely based on getting the reign of Islamic government in his hands. Islam never believed in the nobility (please review ‘The last Holy Sermon of the Prophet (PBUH)) otherwise Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) would be the first caliph but rather it based on piety and knowledgeability as history proves it.

    I hope my message will open up people’s mind.


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      December 25, 2009 at 1:55 PM

      so brother you think that imam Hussain’s death was useless? he stood against yazeed just to get into the government and the khilafah? first of all, how positive and sure can you be while saying any of those good things happened on 10th of muharram? where it says in quran or any where that prophet addam a.s was forgiven on this day, or prophet Noh a.s was saved, or etc..these dates can be made up just so people wouldnt try to mourn on this day. and let alone imam hussain a.s, he didnt do what he did just to get the power, but he did it cuz it was the right thing to do. he knew yazeed was wrong and he had to do the right thing, he did it so the islam that we know of today remain standing. If he had stayed quite and mind his own business, today u wouldnt have a r eligion called islam, or if you had it wouldnt be same as the way it should have been. and who in the world says, everyone should celebrate begening of every month? only the christians and those who worship the sun. try to study islam as in whole then try to talk about what hussain should have done or not.

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        December 27, 2009 at 8:47 AM


        You got my point. His death was beyond reason. Only it served to divide Muslim ummah further and nothing else; it is not a hidden truth. Today we proclaimed ourselves as sunni or shia but muslims; it is very ironical and sad. With all the due respect, lust to power is very intoxicating. Hence he inherited from his father Ali R.A. Who himself contended to caliphate on every occasion and considered himself rightful owner of the Islamic dynasty (Ironically speaking: dynasty). Ali R.A. every attempt was failed thanks to the Sahabas of the times. As the Islamic government weakened due to the internal conflicts as Ali R.A. is considered party in those, he was elected by the rebels who have martyred Usman R.A. We see that also a clear initiation of division between muslims. As there are evidences that Ali R.A. was reluctant to punish the rebels (Because they brought him to power) were accountable for Usman R.A.’s martyrdom. It has cause the war between Ali R.A. and Aisha Siddiqua as we know it in the name of Jang-e-Jamel.

        The very same misunderstanding, Hussain R.A. has inherited. He considered succession was his right. What made him think that he was rightful in that manner? Because of nobility? Remember the last sermon of Holy Prophet where he said there superiority arab has over no arab and vice versa (please review the sermon as whole). His decision to go face Yazid was nothing but emotional plea; he was offered help and denied. He went with kids and women; armless; who would be in their right mind to do that. To put everyone’s life in danger; it is a bit selfish act, don’t you think, just for the sake of government. If he had to do that than why he didn’t accept the help of the tribes; it is beyond reason to me.

        Probably it would be better if you please do some research before making emotional assumptions. Prophet (PBUH) followed the sunnah of Musa-alaihsalam and fast on the 10th of Muharram. As it was considered the day of Independence from Pharoah. It is one of the example; you may do research for the rest.


        • Avatar

          Abd- Allah

          December 31, 2009 at 4:03 PM

          Assalam Alaikum

          Just for everyone’s information, all the following information about Ashura has NO authentic basis:

          “On this day: Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala) accepted the repentance of Sayyidina Adam (’Alaihis-Salaam) after his exile from Paradise; Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala) saved Sayyidina Nuh (’Alaihis-Salaam) and his companions in the ark; Allah extinguished the fire in which Sayyidina Ibrahim (’Alaihis-Salaam) was thrown by Nimrod; And Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala) spoke directly to Sayyidina Musa (’Alaihis-Salaam) and gave him the Commandments. On this same 10th of Muharram, Sayyidina Ayyub (’Alaihis-Salaam) was restored to health (from leprosy); Sayyidina Yusuf (’Alaihis-Salaam) was reunited with his father Ya’qub (’Alaihis-Salaam); Sayyidina Yunus (’Alaihis-Salaam) was taken out from the belly of the fish. ‘Ashura is also the day when Sayyidina Dawud (’Alaihis-Salaam) was forgiven; the kingdom of Sulaiman (’Alaihis-Salaam) was restored; Sayyidina Isa (’Alaihis-Salaam) was raised to Jannah”

          and Allah knows best.

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      January 17, 2011 at 11:58 PM

      You refer to the last serom is this the one on Ghadeer e Khum on the 18th of Zilhajj?

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    December 25, 2009 at 1:10 AM


    Jazaki Allahu khairan for this ma’roof-spreading article. I put it on my blog. :)

  18. Avatar

    Slave of God

    December 25, 2009 at 1:11 AM


  19. Pingback: Why we fast on the day of Ashoora :: Average Muslim

  20. Avatar


    December 7, 2010 at 6:13 AM

    The thing is i am not going to mourn for the death . but i know this day is very important , if we start morning by remembering resul SAWali husayn hassan and fatima aish omer uthman abubeker bilal and it will not finsish every month we have to cry . all of them for us important so just fast make dua tewba so on not moring for hassan or hussain death we respect them and love all but just remember every shaba tabin shuuk so on and we make dua. not just rmember one person and mourn……

    thanks jezakillah kair any way.

    • Avatar


      January 17, 2011 at 11:42 PM

      I guess you are free to do as you please and we generally prefer to following the authentic teachings of the exalted prophet (PBUH)

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    December 7, 2010 at 6:51 PM

    “Satan rejoiced when Adam (peace be upon him) came out of Paradise, but he did not know that when a diver sinks into the sea, he collects pearls and then rises again.”

    EMANcipate yourself

  22. Avatar


    December 8, 2010 at 11:03 AM

    Great post! Perhaps you can put a note at the top to indicate the days of Ashoora for 2010, as the article states the dates from the year the article was first posted

    • Avatar


      December 8, 2010 at 12:10 PM

      yes, very important point as it says:

      you can fast December 25th, 26th and the 27th

      but this year the tenth will be wed 15th dec (i think)

  23. Avatar


    December 8, 2010 at 12:42 PM

    As salaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatuAllahi wa barakaatuh

    Here are the dates for this year inshaa Allah:

    09 muharram 1432 = Wednesday 15 December 2010
    10 muharram (day of ‘Aashooraa) 1432 = Thursday 16 December 2010
    11 muharram 1432 = Friday 17 December 2010

    Jazaakum Allah khayrun

    • Avatar


      December 10, 2010 at 5:36 PM

      wa alaykum salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

      jazaak Allahu khayran. Changed now.

  24. Avatar


    December 10, 2010 at 11:39 PM

    I’ve heard from Shia Muslims that Muharram is serious like Ramadan such as not listening to music or celebrating any joyous occasion such as weddings but I was wondering why these types of acts are prohibited especially during Muharram?

    • Avatar


      January 16, 2011 at 11:46 PM

      Dear Noma,

      Logically if someone in your family passes away generally one does not attend a wedding or joyous occassion… for the Shia the infallibles ie Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Bibi Fatimah (AS) and the 12 divinely ordained Imams hold a greater importance than our own family. I am not arguing the merits and demerits of what we believe in but am happy to debate if required – but this is the logic as to why for the prescribed two months and nine days we do not hold any celebrations.

      • Avatar


        January 21, 2011 at 9:58 PM

        What do you mean by the 2 months and 9 days? Muharram is only one month.

      • Avatar


        November 1, 2016 at 11:53 AM

        i have one question that can you listen to music after the first 15 days of Muharram ? But still no abusive music .

  25. Avatar

    Seyed Javad

    December 16, 2010 at 12:34 AM

    All those people named in this article are respected but only Allah knows who was better. Please stop crediting people based on your imaginations. If Sheih Muslims mourn for Husain, it is not because of that he was the best. They mourn for him because he and his family were brutally slaughtered by the Muslims who believed they are doing Jihad. It‘s embracing for Muslims at the moment because they killed one the best people.
    Allah saves us.

  26. Avatar


    January 16, 2011 at 10:19 PM

    I think Ibn Khateers commentary is fairly flawed and given that the prophet (pbuh) had stated the status of Imam Hussain (AS) and the Quran does state on on a number of occassions that the Last Prophet of Islam does not do or say anything which is not from Allah. I can add a few more arguments from the Quran too as to why the this commentary is fairly invalid – happy to discuss

  27. Avatar


    January 18, 2011 at 10:23 AM

    Interesting how you chose to remove commentary which logically and through islamic facts made the above article invalid ……hmmm clearly a well “moderated” site !

  28. Avatar


    January 20, 2011 at 12:27 AM

    “maybe”, this is regarding your comment on the authenticity of the hadith about fasting Ashura.

    ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: When the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) fasted on the day of ‘Ashoora and told the people to fast, they said, “O Messenger of Allah, this is a day that is venerated by the Jews and Christians.” The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Next year, if Allah wills, we will fast on the ninth day.” But by the time the following year came, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had passed away.

    Narrated by Muslim, 1916.

    If the Prophet peace be upon him had passed away before the next year came, that means these companions such as Ibn Abbas had heard it from him the year he passed away. This proves that all the things which you mentioned are incorrect and not true.

    • Avatar


      January 20, 2011 at 3:25 PM

      And how old was Ibn Abbas when the Prophet (PBUH) narrated this to him

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        January 21, 2011 at 4:08 PM

        And how old was Ibn Abbas when the Prophet (PBUH) narrated this to him

        “maybe”, I believe you can do the math by yourself, but why don’t we address a more important issue.

        now for the Shia the infallibles ie Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Bibi Fatimah (AS) and the 12 divinely ordained Imams hold a greater importance than our own family. I am not arguing the merits and demerits of what we believe in but am happy to debate if required

        So you believe that Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) is one of the “infallibles” and one of the “12 divinely ordained Imams” right?

        If this is so, can you please just answer for me one simple question. As everyone knows (even the shi’a agree) that Ali gave the pledge to Abu Bakr may Allah be pleased with them both. My question is that if Ali is “infallible” and divinely guided, then him giving the pledge to Abu Bakr was a divine inspiration from Allah and what he did was absolutely true and correct, which means that Abu Bakr was the rightful Khalifa after the Prophet peace be upon him. And if you say no, Ali was mistaken when he gave Abu Bakr the pledge and Abu Bakr did not deserve to be the Khalifa after the Prophet peace be upon him (as the shi’a claim), then you would have refuted the basic belief of the shi’as that the “12 divinely ordained Imams” are infallible.

        So which one is it? If you can answer this simple question of mine, that would be great! But don’t worry, I’m not really expecting an answer, so I won’t be disappointed if (when) you don’t reply with an answer. And if you answer (or attempt to do so), then whatever answer you provide will be an argument against you and your beliefs! That is if you do give a straightforward answer without trying to wiggle your way out without giving a clear answer to that question.

        Subhan Allah, a simple question such as this one is enough to show that the belief of the shi’as about infallible imams is incorrect and illogical, and if all their beliefs are based on this one, then that shows how much merit and truth their beliefs have. Now do you still want to come here and try cast doubt in our beliefs when your own beliefs are illogical and contradictory?!

        • Avatar


          January 22, 2011 at 3:52 AM

          You block me form posting and then expect to have a debate – mashallah your admin is about as treacherous as the munfiqeen of Islam who burnt the door of Imam Alis house to seek allegience for caliphate ……go read your own books and educate yourself cause cleary one cannot argue with Jahiliya who are not open to debate… probably will remove this post as well but atleast you have my response – you have my email address – give me facts and Iam willing to debate

          • Amad


            January 22, 2011 at 4:38 AM

            Good to see true colors coming out.
            We r not interested in seeing long, drawn out Shia Sunni debates.

            Lakum deenakum wali yadeen

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            January 22, 2011 at 7:47 AM

            Actually by posting such articles the members of this blog have shown their true colors and thank you for that !

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            January 22, 2011 at 1:08 PM

            maybe, no one burned Ali’s house may Allah be pleased with him, maybe (no pun intended) you should read our own books before you believe what you have been taught (brainwashed) since you were born. If you are truly sincere, then I challenge you to read the books of sunnis yourself.

            As I expected, you didn’t answer my simple question. No one wanted to debate you, I was merely interested in a simple answer to my very simple question, which if was answered then there would be no need to debate anything after that!

  29. Avatar


    January 22, 2011 at 5:07 AM


    Salaam alaikum,

    I’m sure the intentions of the author of this article are good. However, it’s quite disappointing to see that in this age where Muslims and Islam are already so maligned, that fellow Muslims still resort to takfir or derogatory terms while referring to each other. Along those lines, it’s quite disheartening to see a respected online magazine such as yours use a term such as “Rafidhi” to refer to Shi’a Muslims. Such a term is highly offensive, and moreover, holds little weight in an argument. Think of a bully who can resort to nothing other than name-calling to intimidate one who he has no argument against.

    Furthermore, the argument cited about not mourning on Ashura is filled with logical holes. Firstly, the Shi’a, unlike Ahlus Sunnah w’al Jamaah, do NOT hold Uthman, Umar, Abu Bakr, etc. to be in higher esteem than Imam Hussain and Imam Ali b. Abu Talib – hence, the fact that they do not mourn the deaths of the first 3 is only logical. What the Ahlus Sunnnah wa’l Jamaah believe is irrelevant in understanding what the Shi’a do.

    Secondly, the Shi’a DO mourn the death of Imam Ali (as) in Ramadhan. He was also a shaheed and he was also martyred because he stood for truth and righteousness during his time.

    The argument is correct that the mourning of Imam Hussain may be on a greater scale than the mourning of Imam Ali (as) and all the other Imams. This is because of the context of Imam Hussain’s death. Has anyone here, before casting of the Shi’a as “ignorant Rafidhis,” actually studied what happened in Karbala only 60 or so years after the Prophet died? Do they know what Yazeed, the khalifa of the time, was doing to the laws of Islam? Do they know that Yazeed had attacked the Holy Kaaba and was openly flouting the sacred laws of Islam brought by the Prophet (saw)? Do they know that in Karbala, Imam Hussain brought women and children along with him who were witness to the massacre of the Prophet’s family? Do they know that Yazeed’s army cut off water to the Prophet’s family for over 3 days (denying them access to the Euphrates), and that Yazeed’s army mercilessly killed Imam Hussain’s 6 month old grandson (the Prophet’s great-grandson)? Do they know that the women of the caravan of Imam Hussain, including Hazrat Zainab, the Prophet’s grand-daughter, Hazrat Ruqayya, the Prophet’s great grand-daughter, and many others, were taken captive by Yazeed’s forces, whipped and beaten mercilessly, and taken to Damascas?

    These are just some questions that the author of this article, as well as the publishers of the website and all those who read this article need to ask themselves.

    with salaams and du’as,
    Your Brother

    • Avatar


      January 22, 2011 at 2:03 PM

      actually studied what happened in Karbala only 60 or so years after the Prophet died? Do they know what Yazeed…

      Brother (no pun intended), do you care to actually provide any references to what you are mentioning? I don’t mean references from the books of the shi’a which mention these incidents as “facts” even though they don’t have an authentic chain of narration for them. Unless you can prove all what you mention by providing authentic chains of narrations, then everything you said is merely a claim that can not be proven. Even if you were able to prove with authentic narrations what did happen, that would make no difference regarding the Islamic ruling on what some shi’as do on Ashura, most of which has been clearly forbidden by the Prophet peace be upon him in his authentic ahadith.

      fellow Muslims still resort to takfir

      Where did you see takfir?! Or is this what the shi’as hold the sunnis to be?

      use a term such as “Rafidhi”

      This term is very appropriate to describe those who declare takfir on all the companions (except a few) may Allah be pleased with them all, and those who believe that the Quran that we have today has been changed and is not complete, etc..

      On a different note, “maybe” wasn’t able to answer my simple question, so maybe you can provide me with an answer to the question I asked.

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    January 23, 2011 at 12:11 AM

    clearly your heart is so black stoned that you choose to deny the events of Kerbala

    You could have clearly proven me to be wrong by simply providing authentic chain of narrations for what you claim happened, but instead you decide to throw accusations and insults, something only a person who has no proof does.

    To answer your silly question – the pledge was never given !

    Well your own scholars admit that Ali did in fact give the pledge to Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with all the companions! I mean are you denying what your own scholars say? Perhaps you are not from the shi’a but rather you are starting your own knew sect with these beliefs!

    Perhaps you should read your own books and see what your own scholars say because you seem to not even know what your own beliefs should be!

    And stop accusing of the usual BS heard enough jahilia say things like –

    1) Quran is not complete

    Courtesy of youtube (you’re not going to accuse youtube of being in on it now are you?!):

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      February 25, 2011 at 7:25 AM

      I would think that you are educated enough not to show links to some Khariji or Nusairi giving a lecture. These groups are well funded by the countrys where you pay tax ……get me some proper sources or STOP your lies on the net under the guise of bloggers !

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        February 25, 2011 at 8:23 AM

        Second if do want to show me a video – show me an entire video and not one chopped by a nasibi – which has been edited to quote out of context…..this is an age old tactic adopted by the nasibis who have terrorised Islam !

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        February 25, 2011 at 8:24 AM

        better yet why dont u get me sources instead of doctored videos ?

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      February 25, 2011 at 9:36 AM

      let me give you a few factual sources instead of doctored nasibi videos…..not that we claim the Quran is incomplete in any way

      Hadhrath Umar’s saying that the current Qur’an is incomplete. In Sahih al Bukhari Volume 8, pages 209-210, we read this sermon delivered by Hadhrath Umar during his last Hajj as Khalifa:
      “Certainly Allah sent Muhammad with the truth, and revealed to him the Book. One of the revelations which came to him was the verse of stoning. We read it and understood it”.
      “The Messenger of God stoned and we stoned after him. I am concerned that if time goes on, someone may say, ‘By God, we do not find the verse of stoning in the Book of God;’ thus, the Muslims will deviate by neglecting a commandment the Almighty revealed.
      “Stoning is in the Book of God. It is the right punishment for a person who commits adultery if the required witnesses are available, or there waspregnancy without marriage or adultery is admitted.”

      Hadhrath Ayesha also testified to a ‘missing’ verse on stoning
      “When the verses “Rajm” [Stoning] and ayah “Rezah Kabir” descended, they were written on a piece of paper and kept under my pillow. Following the demise of Prophet Muhammad (S) a goat ate the piece of paper while we were mourning.
      Sunan Ibne Majah, Vol 2, P 39, Published Karachi…

      Has most of Surah Ahzab been lost?
      Al-Muttaqi ‘Ali bin Husam al-Din in his book “Mukhtasar Kanz al-‘Ummal” printed on the margin of Imam Ahmad’s Musnad, Volume 2, page 2, in his hadith about chapter 33, said that Ibn Mardawayh reported that Hudhayfah said:
      ‘Umar said to me ‘How many verses are contained in the chapter of al-Ahzab?’ I said, ’72 or 73 verses.’ He said it was almost as long as the chapter of the Cow, which contains 287 verses, and in it there was the verse of stoning.

      Has most of the Qur’an been lost?
      Allama Jalaluddin Suyuti records the following words of Abdullah ibne Umar: “No one can proclaim that I have found the Qur’an complete because most of the Qur’an has been lost”. ” Tafseer Durre Manthur” as-Suyuti Volume 1 page 104

  31. Avatar


    February 25, 2011 at 9:40 AM

    While we the followers of the Quran, the Prophet (PBUH) and his pure household (AS) do believe in the book as it was given to us …..i do thank you for pointing me to this topic because i am seeing some interesting evidence emerge from your books about persons in Islamic history who claimed otherwise

  32. Avatar


    March 25, 2012 at 6:52 AM

     “But there is nothing good in what the Shi’ah do of expressing distress and grief, most of which may be done in order to show off ”

    What is your proof to say that what Shia do is an act of ar riya ?

  33. Pingback: Blessed are those… | The Muslimah Mommy

  34. Avatar

    Said Hajjatey

    October 6, 2016 at 11:13 AM

    Maa shaa Allah…

  35. Pingback: Celebrating The Islamic New Year – Don't Strap Them In

  36. Avatar


    October 18, 2016 at 7:01 AM

    Nice to see an article about The miraculous birth of Hazrat Imam Hussain

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So You Are The Wali, Now What?

Dr Shadee Elmasry



The way most Muslims (as well as conservative Christians and Jews) live, a man asks for a woman’s hand in marriage from the father.

The father is not just a turnstile who has to say yes. He is a “wali” or protector and guardian of his daughter’s rights. So he will be asking some serious questions that would be awkward if the woman had to ask them.

Furthermore, in the Muslim community today esp. in the West, there are many converts that seek out a wali because they have no male relative who is Muslim. In this post, I share some guidelines aimed at the wali in his new role and stories that are useful.

Being a wali is not an honorary role. You’re not just throwing out the first pitch. You’re actually trying to throw curveballs to see whether the proposal checks out or has issues.

Here are some questions and demands a wali should make:

Background check: Call and meet at least four people that were close to the man who has proposed and interview them. There’s no husn al-zann (good opinion) in marriage. As a potential suitor, you are rejected until you prove yourself, much like an application for employment. These days, most people’s background can be found on their social media, so the wali has to spend time scrolling down. Keep scrolling, read the comments, look at the pictures, click on who’s tagged in those pictures. Get a good idea. You are a private investigator *before* the problem happens, not after. 

Check financials:  You need to see the financials to make sure they are not in some ridiculous debt or have bad credit such that they can’t even rent an apartment or cover basic needs. You want some evidence that he can fulfill the obligation of maintenance.

Check the educational background or skill set: This is a given. If it’s solid, then it can outweigh lack of funds at this moment.

Check medical records: If this is a stranger, the wali needs medical records. There was once a wealthy, handsome young man that was suave and a seemingly amazing prospect who proposed for a girl who was comparatively of average looks and from a family of very modest means. The mother and daughter were head over heels, but the dad had enough common sense to know something was up.

“Why would he come knocking on our door?,” he asked.

So the father demanded medical records. The guy never produced them. When the dad pressed him, the man admitted, he had a sexually transmitted disease (STD) and that’s why he couldn’t find anyone else to marry him.

Now note, there are legitimate cases where people have a past when they have made mistakes. This happens to the best of us, and the door for tawbah (repentance) is open. In those cases, there are organizations that match-make for Muslims with STDs. People should act in a responsible manner and not damage the lives of other humans beings.

Lifestyle: It is your job to check if the two parties have agreed on life essentials such as religious beliefs, where to live, how to school kids, etc?

In-laws: Have you at least met the family of the suitor and spent some time with them to make sure there’s nothing alarming?

Engagement: Contrary to popular understanding, there is such a thing as engagement in Islam. It’s an announcement of a future commitment to marriage. Nothing changes between the fiancees, but nobody is allowed to propose anymore. The purpose of engagement is to give time for both parties to get ready. For example, the groom may want to save up some money, or the girl may be finishing up college. Also, it’s easy to put on a face during the get-to-know process, but it’s hard to fake it over an eight or nine-month period. I remember a story where a young woman was engaged, and four months into the engagement they discovered the young man was still getting to know other women. He basically reserved the girl and then went to check for better options. Needless to say, he was dumped on the spot. Engagements are commonly a few months. I think more than a year is too much.

Legal/Civil:  The marriage should be legal/civil in the country where you will settle. If you accept a Shariah marriage but not a civil one, know that you’re asking for legal complications, especially if a child enters the picture. (Ed. Note- we realize that some countries do not allow legal registration of more than one marriage- if that is a consideration please look at all options to protect your ward. There are ways to get insurance that can be set up.)

Mahr: Get 50% of the dowry upfront (or some decent amount) and whatever is scheduled to be paid later should be written and signed. I’ve seen too many cases where a really nice dowry is “promised” but never produced.

The dowry should be commensurate to current standards depending on the man’s job. For example in our area in America 5, 7, or 10k is a common range.

In sum, there are very few things in life that are as bad as misery in marriage. The wali’s job is to eliminate the bad things that could have been avoided. If that means he has to be demanding and hated for a few months, it’s worth the cost.

It’s preventative medicine.

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Shaykh Hamza Yusuf And The Question of Rebellion In The Islamic Tradition

Dr Usaama al-Azami



Sepoy rebellion, Shaykh Hamza

In recent years, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, a notable Islamic scholar from North America, has gained global prominence by supporting efforts by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to deal with the fallout of the Arab revolutions. The UAE is a Middle Eastern autocracy that has been the chief strategist behind quelling the Arab revolutionary aspiration for accountable government in the region. Shaykh Hamza views himself as helping prevent the region from falling into chaos by supporting one of its influential autocratic states. However, more recently, he has become embroiled in another controversy because of comments he made regarding the Syrian revolution in 2016 that surfaced online earlier this week and for which he has since apologised. I will not discuss these comments directly in this article, but the present piece does have a bearing on the issue of revolution as it addresses the question of how Islamic scholars have traditionally responded to tyranny. Thus, in what follows, I somewhat narrowly focus on another recent recording of Shaykh Hamza that has been published by a third party in the past couple of weeks entitled: “Hamza Yusuf’s response to the criticism for working with Trump administration”. While it was published online at the end of August 2019, the short clip may, in fact, predate the Trump controversy, as it only addresses the more general charge that Shaykh Hamza is supportive of tyrannical governments.

Thus, despite its title, the primary focus of the recording is what the Islamic tradition purportedly says about the duty of Muslims to render virtually unconditional obedience to even the most tyrannical of rulers. In what follows, I argue that Shaykh Hamza’s contention that the Islamic tradition has uniformly called for rendering obedience to tyrannical rule—a contention that he has been repeating for many years—is inaccurate. Indeed, it is so demonstrably inaccurate that one wonders how a scholar as learned as Shaykh Hamza can portray it as the mainstream interpretation of the Islamic tradition rather than as representing a particularly selective reading of fourteen hundred years of scholarship. Rather than rest on this claim, I will attempt to demonstrate this in what follows. (Note: this article was sent to Shaykh Hamza for comment at the beginning of this month, but he has not replied in time for publication.)

Opposing all government vs opposing a government

Shaykh Hamza argues that “the Islamic tradition” demands that one render virtually absolute obedience to one’s rulers. He bases this assertion on a number of grounds, each of which I will address in turn. Firstly, he argues that Islam requires government, because the opposite of having a government would be a state of chaos. This is, however, to mischaracterise the arguments of the majority of mainstream scholars in Islamic history down to the present who, following explicit Qur’anic and Prophetic teachings, opposed supporting tyrannical rulers. None of these scholars ever advocated the removal of government altogether. They only opposed tyranny. For some reason that is difficult to account for, Shaykh Hamza does not, in addressing the arguments of his interlocutors, make the straightforward distinction between opposing tyranny, and opposing the existence of any government at all.

A complex tradition

Rather than support these tyrannical governments, the Islamic tradition provides a variety of responses to how one should oppose such governments, ranging from the more quietist—opposing them only in one’s heart—to the more activist—opposing them through armed rebellion. The majority of later scholars, including masters such as al-Ghazzali (d. 505/1111), Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (d. 795/1393), and Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani (d. 852/1449) appear to have fallen somewhere between these two poles, advocating rebellion only in limited circumstances, and mostly advising a vocally critical posture towards tyranny. Of course, some early scholars, such as the sanctified member of the Prophetic Household, Sayyiduna Husayn (d. 61/680) had engaged in armed opposition to the tyranny of the Umayyads resulting in his martyrdom. Similarly, the Companion ‘Abdullah b. Zubayr (d. 73/692), grandson of Abu Bakr (d. 13/634), and son of al-Zubayr b. al-‘Awwam (d. 36/656), two of the Ten Companions Promised Paradise, had established a Caliphate based in Makkah that militarily tried to unseat the Umayyad Caliphal counter-claimant.

However, the model of outright military rebellion adopted by these illustrious scholars was generally relinquished in later centuries in favour of other forms of resisting tyranny. This notwithstanding, I will try to show that the principle of vocally resisting tyranny has always remained at the heart of the Islamic tradition contrary to the contentions of Shaykh Hamza. Indeed, I argue that the suggestion that Shaykh Hamza’s work with the UAE, an especially oppressive regime in the Arab world, is somehow backed by the Islamic tradition can only be read as a mischaracterisation of this tradition. He only explicitly cites two scholars from Islamic history to support his contention, namely Shaykhs Ahmad Zarruq (d. 899/1493) and Abu Bakr al-Turtushi (d. 520/1126), both of whom were notable Maliki scholars from the Islamic West. Two scholars of the same legal school, from roughly the same relatively peripheral geographic region, living roughly four hundred years apart, cannot fairly be used to represent the swathe of Islamic views to be found over fourteen hundred years in lands as far-flung as India to the east, Russia to the north, and southern Africa to the south.

What does the tradition actually say?

Let me briefly illustrate the diversity of opinion on this issue within the Islamic tradition by citing several more prominent and more influential figures from the same tradition alongside their very different stances on the issue of how one ought to respond to tyrannical rulers. Most of the Four Imams are in fact reported to have supported rebellion (khuruj) which is, by definition, armed. A good summary of their positions is found in the excellent study in Arabic by Shaykh ‘Abdullah al-Dumayji, who is himself opposed to rebellion, but who notes that outright rebellion against tyrannical rule was in fact encouraged by Abu Hanifa (d. 150/767) and Malik (d. 179/795), and is narrated as one of the legal positions adopted by al-Shafi‘i (d. 204/820) and Ahmad b. Hanbal (d. 241/855). As these scholars’ legal ideas developed and matured into schools of thought, many later adherents also maintained similar positions to those attributed to the founders of these schools. To avoid suggesting that armed rebellion against tyrants was the dominant position of the later Islamic tradition, let me preface this section with a note from Holberg Prize-winning Islamic historian, Michael Cook, who notes in his magisterial study of the doctrine of commanding right and forbidding wrong that “in the face of the delinquency of the ruler, there is a clear mainstream position [in the Islamic tradition]: rebuke is endorsed while [armed] rebellion is rejected.”

But there were also clearly plenty of outliers, or more qualified endorsements of rebellion against tyrants, as well as the frequent disavowal of the obligation to render them any obedience. Thus for the Malikis, one can find Qadi Abu Bakr b. al-‘Arabi (d. 543/1148) who asserts that advocating rebellion against tyrants is the main position of the madhhab; similarly among later Hanafis, one finds Qadi Abu Bakr al-Jassas (d. 370/981); for the Hanbalis, one may cite the positions of the prolific scholars Imam Ibn ‘Aqil (d. 513/1119), Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 597/1201), and in a more qualified sense, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali. Among later Shafi‘is, I have found less explicit discussions of rebellion in my limited search, but a prominent Shafi‘i like the influential exegete and theologian al-Fakhr al-Razi (d. 606/1210) makes explicit, contrary to Shaykh Hamza’s claims, that not only is obeying rulers not an obligation, in fact “most of the time it is prohibited, since they command to nothing but tyranny.” This is similar in ways to the stance of other great Shafi‘is such as al-hafiz Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani who notes concerning tyrannical rulers (umara’ al-jawr) that the ulama state that “if it is possible to depose them without fitna and oppression, it is an obligation to do so. Otherwise, it is obligatory to be patient.” It is worth noting that the normative influence of such a statement cited by Ibn Hajar transcends the Shafi‘i school given that it is made in his influential commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari. Once again, contrary to the assertions of Shaykh Hamza, there is nothing to suggest that any of the illustrious scholars who supported rebellion against tyrannical rulers was advocating the anarchist removal of all government. Rather they were explicitly advocating the replacement of a tyrant with a just ruler where this was possible.

Al-Ghazzali on confronting tyrants

A final example may be taken from the writing of Imam al-Ghazzali, an exceptionally influential scholar in the Islamic tradition who Shaykh Hamza particularly admires. On al-Ghazzali, who is generally opposed to rebellion but not other forms of opposition to tyranny, I would like to once again cite the historian Michael Cook. In his previously cited work, after an extensive discussion of al-Ghazzali’s articulation of the doctrine of commanding right and forbidding wrong, Cook concludes (p. 456):

As we have seen, his views on this subject are marked by a certain flirtation with radicalism. In this Ghazzālī may have owed something to his teacher Juwaynī, and he may also have been reacting to the Ḥanafī chauvinism of the Seljūq rulers of his day. The duty, of course, extends to everyone, not just rulers and scholars. More remarkably, he is prepared to allow individual subjects to have recourse to weapons where necessary, and even to sanction the formation of armed bands to implement the duty without the permission of the ruler. And while there is no question of countenancing rebellion, Ghazzālī is no accommodationist: he displays great enthusiasm for men who take their lives in their hands and rebuke unjust rulers in harsh and uncompromising language.

Most of the material Cook bases his discussion upon is taken from al-Ghazzali’s magnum opus, The Revival of the Religious Sciences. Such works once again demonstrate that the Islamic tradition, or great Sufi masters and their masterworks, cannot be the basis for the supportive attitude towards tyrannical rule on the part of a minority of modern scholars.

Modern discontinuities and their high stakes

But modern times give rise to certain changes that also merit our attention. In modern times, new technologies of governance, such as democracy, have gone some way to dealing with challenges such as the management of the transition of power without social breakdown and the loss of life, as well as other forms of accountability that are not possible in absolute autocracies. For their part, absolute autocracies have had their tyrannical dimensions amplified with Orwellian technologies that invade private spaces and facilitate barbaric forms of torture and inhumane degradation on a scale that was likely unimaginable to premodern scholars. The stakes of a scholar’s decision of whether to support autocracy or democracy could not be higher.

Modern scholars like Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi (b. 1345/1926), someone who Shaykh Hamza’s own mentor, Shaykh Abdullah b. Bayyah (b. 1353f./1935) considered a teacher until fairly recently, has advocated for an Islamic conception of democracy as a possible means to deal with the problem of tyranny that plagues much of the Muslim world. He is hardly the only scholar to do so. And in contrast with some of the scholars of the past who advocated armed rebellion in response to tyranny, most contemporary scholars supporting the Arab revolutions have argued for peaceful political change wherever possible. They have advocated for peaceful protest in opposition to tyranny. Where this devolved into violence in places like Libya, Syria, and Yemen, this was generally because of the disproportionately violent responses of regimes to peaceful protests.

Shaykh Hamza on the nature of government

For Shaykh Hamza, the fault here appears to lie with the peaceful protestors for provoking these governments to crush them. Such a conception of the dynamics of protest appears to assume that the autocratic governmental response to this is a natural law akin to cause and effect. The logic would seem to be: if one peacefully calls for reform and one is murdered in cold blood by a tyrannical government, then one has only oneself to blame. Governments, according to this viewpoint, have no choice but to be murderous and tyrannical. But in an age in which nearly half of the world’s governments are democracies, however flawed at times, why not aspire to greater accountability and less violent forms of governance than outright military dictatorship?

Rather than ask this question, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf appears to be willing to defend autocracy no matter what they do on the grounds that government, in principle, is what is at stake. Indeed, in defending government as necessary and a blessing, he rhetorically challenges his critics to “ask the people of Libya whether government is a blessing; ask the people of Yemen whether government is a blessing; ask the people of Syria whether government is a blessing?” The tragic irony of such statements is that these countries have, in part, been destroyed because of the interventions of a government, one for which Shaykh Hamza serves as an official, namely the UAE. This government has one of the most aggressive foreign policies in the region and has been instrumental in the failure of representative governments and the survival of tyrannical regimes throughout the Middle East.

Where do we go from here?

In summary, Shaykh Hamza’s critics are not concerned that he is “supporting governments,” rather they are concerned that for the last few years, he has found himself supporting bad government and effectively opposing the potential for good government in a region that is desperately in need of it. And while he may view himself as, in fact, supporting stability in the region by supporting the UAE, such a view is difficult if not impossible to reconcile with the evidence. Given his working relationship with the UAE government, perhaps Shaykh Hamza could use his position to remind the UAE of the blessing of government in an effort to stop them from destroying the governments in the region through proxy wars that result in death on an epic scale. If he is unable to do this, then the most honourable thing to do under such circumstances would be to withdraw from such political affiliations and use all of his influence and abilities to call for genuine accountability in the region in the same way that he is currently using his influence and abilities to provide cover, even if unwittingly, for the UAE’s oppression.

And Allah knows best.

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Can Women Attend The Burial Of The Deceased?

A short survey on what leading scholars and the four schools of law (madhhabs) have to say on the issue

Dr Usaama al-Azami



Quran at graveyard, woman attend burial

A few weeks ago, my brother passed away, may Allah have mercy on his soul. By Allah’s grace, his funeral was well-attended by many friends, relatives, and students of his, including a number of women. In this context, someone asked me about the Sharia’s guidance regarding women attending the burial of the deceased, and in what follows I consider what leading scholars and the four schools of law (madhhabs) have to say on the issue. The short survey below is by no means exhaustive, something that will need to be left for a much longer piece, but I hope it can be considered representative for the purposes of a general readership. 

This is not a fatwa, but rather a brief outline of what past scholars have argued to be the case with some suggestions as to how this might be understood in modern times. Finally, I should note that this is a discussion about accompanying the deceased to their final resting place (ittiba‘/tashyi‘ al-jinaza) after the conducting of funeral prayers (salat al-janaza). Accompanying the deceased on the part of women is considered more contentious than simply attending the funeral prayer, so in general, jurists who permit such accompaniment would allow for attending the prayer, while jurists who do not permit accompaniment of the deceased may be more reluctant to permit prayer. Whatever the specific cases may be, I do not go into this discussion below.

Key positions and evidence

In brief, I have been able to discern three general positions regarding women accompanying the deceased until they are buried: 1. A clear majority of scholars indicate that women are permitted to attend the burial of the deceased, but it is generally discouraged (makruh). 2. Some scholars permitted elderly women’s attendance of the burial unconditionally. 3. Others prohibited all women’s attendance unconditionally.

Overall, it is clear that most schools have permitted women’s attendance of burial, with most of these scholars discouraging it for reasons we shall consider below. The notion that women should not attend the burial of the deceased will thus clearly be shown to be a minority position in the tradition, past and present. Being a minority position does not mean it cannot be practiced, as we will consider in due course. The evidence from the Sunnah is the main legal basis for the ruling, and I shall now consider the most authentic hadiths on the matter.

The general rule for legal commands is that they apply to both genders equally. Accordingly, in a hadith narrated by Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) strongly encouraged attending the burial of the deceased. That the ruling for women would be one of discouragement (karaha) rather than of encouragement (istihbab) would thus necessarily arise from countervailing evidence. This may be found in another hadith narrated by both of the earlier authorities. This short hadith is worth quoting in full: 

(‏متفق عليه‏) قالت أم عطية: نهينا عن اتباع الجنائز، ولم يعزم علينا

In translation, this reads: Umm ‘Atiyya said, “We were prohibited from following the funeral procession, but it was not insisted upon.”

Interpreting the evidence

The Sharia’s ruling on this matter hinges on how this hadith is understood. On this point, scholars of various schools have adopted a range of positions as outlined earlier. But on the specifics of how the wording of the hadith should be understood, it is worth considering the reading of one of the towering figures of hadith studies, Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani (d. 852/1449). In his authoritative commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari entitled Fath al-Bari, he glosses the phrase in the aforementioned hadith “but it was not insisted upon” as meaning, “the prohibition was not insisted upon.” He adds: “It is as though she is saying: ‘it was discouraged for us to follow the funeral procession, without it being prohibited.’”

The hadith has, however, been interpreted in various ways by the schools of law. A useful summary of these interpretations may be found in encyclopedic works of fiqh written in recent decades. In his al-Fiqh al-Islami wa-Adillatuhu, the prolific Syrian scholar Wahba al-Zuhayli (d. 1436/2015) notes (on p. 518) that the majority of jurists consider women’s joining the funeral procession to be mildly discouraged (makruh tanzihi) on the basis of the aforementioned hadith of Umm ‘Atiyya. However, he adds, the Hanafis have historically considered it prohibitively discouraged (makruh tahrimi) on the basis of another hadith in which the Prophet reportedly told a group of women who were awaiting a funeral procession, “Return with sins and without reward.”

Al-Zuhayli inclines towards this ruling despite noting in a footnote that the hadith he has just mentioned is weak (da‘if) in its attribution to the Prophet. However, he also adds that the Malikis permitted elderly women to attend the burial of the deceased unconditionally, and also young women from whom no fitna was feared. What constitutes fitna is not generally specified in these discussions and perhaps needs further study, but one contemporary Hanafi defines it as “intermingling with the opposite sex,” and thus suggests that where there is no such intermingling between members of the opposite sex, it is permissible for young women to attend funerals and burials.

Another valuable encyclopedic source for learning about the juristic rulings of various schools and individual scholars is the important 45-volume al-Mawsu‘a al-Fiqhiyya compiled by a team of scholars and published by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Endowments a quarter of a century ago. In its section on this issue, it notes that the Hanafis prohibitively discourage women’s attendance of the funeral procession, the Shafi‘is mildly discourage it, the Malikis permit it where there is no fear of fitna, and the Hanbalis mildly discourage it. The reasoning behind these positions may be found in the Arabic original, and ought to be made available in English by Muslims in the West investing in translating such voluminous works into English. 

From the above, we may gather that of the four schools, only the pre-modern Hanafis prohibit women’s attendance of funeral processions. I have already indicated one example of a modern Hanafi who moves closer to the position of the less restrictive schools in this issue, but it is worth highlighting another. Shaykh Nur al-Din ‘Itr (b. 1355/1937), one of the greatest Hanafi hadith experts alive today, in his commentary on the hadith of Umm ‘Atiyya writes that the report indicates that women’s attending a funeral procession is only mildly discouraged (makruh tanzihi). Additionally, in a footnote, he criticises a contemporary who interprets the hadith as indicating prohibition and then proceeds to cite the less restrictive Maliki position with apparent approval.

The fiqh of modernity

In none of the above am I necessarily arguing that one of these positions is stronger than the other. I present these so that people may be familiar with the range of opinions on the matter in the Islamic tradition. However, this range also indicates the existence of legitimate difference of opinion that should prevent holders of one position from criticising those who follow one of the legitimate alternatives with the unfounded charge that they are not following the Qur’an and Sunna.

Furthermore, there are often interesting assumptions embedded in the premodern juristic tradition which modern Muslims find themselves out of step with, such as the assumption that women should generally stay at home. This is clearly an expectation in some of the fiqh literature, and in modern times, we sometimes find that this results in incoherent legal positions being advocated in Muslim communities. We find, for example, that in much of the premodern fiqh literature, Hanafis prohibit women from attending the mosque for fear of fitna, while we live in times in which women frequently work outside the home. As one of my teachers in fiqh, the Oxford-based Hanafi jurist Shaykh Mohammad Akram Nadwi, once remarked in class, is it not absurd for a scholar to prohibit women from attending the mosque for fear of fitna while none of these scholars would prohibit a woman from going to a mall/shopping centre?

This underlines the need for balanced fiqh that is suited to our times, one that allows both men and women to participate in spiritually elevated activities, such as going to the mosque and attending funerals while observing the appropriate Islamic decorum, so that the rest of their lives may be inspired by such actions. The answer to modernity’s generalised spiritual malaise is not the shutting out of opportunities for spiritual growth, but rather its opposite. This will only come about when Muslims, individually and communally, invest more of their energy in reflecting on how they can faithfully live according to the Qur’an and Sunna in contexts very different to those in which the ulama of past centuries resided.

And God knows best.

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